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Short zen flavored stories.

TAGS: WHERNTO: wellnes  heedism  erudite  righton  notions  techniq  operate 

image of Prazen

These are zenish short stories merrily modified from various sources such as:

A man of enlightenment and wisdom

Student: Oh master, where does the man of enlightenment and wisdom go after he dies?

Master: How should I know?

Student: Because you, master, are a man of enlightenment and wisdom!

Master: That may be so, but I am not dead.

Become a Buddha

Zen master Baso, when he was young, was caught meditating all over the place by his teacher who asked him "Why are you meditating so much?"

Baso answered, "To become a buddha."

His teacher pick up a piece of slate and started polishing it.

Baso asked, "Why are you polishing the slate so vigorously?"

Teacher replied, "To turn it into a mirror."

Baso laughed, "No amount of polishing is going to turn a slate into a mirror?"

Teacher replied, "No amount of cross-legged sitting is going to turn one into a buddha"

Baso then understood.

But just to be sure, his teacher hit him with a staff on the head.


The student went to the zen master in elation!

"Oh master," he joyously exclaimed, "I am so happy and feel so free. I have achieved detachment at last!"

The master hit him on the head with a stick.

"Owww!! Why did you do that?" whined the student rubbing his head.

The master said, "To detach you from your detachment".


The elated student rushed in to see his master!

"I am empty! I have released my attachments!", he exclaimed.

"Indeed." said his master.

"I have no desires! I have no yearnings! I have no ego! I am empty!"

The master hit him on the head with his staff.

"Owww!!!", yelled the student in pain and anger. "Why did you do that, old monk?"

His master asked: "If you are so empty, where did all that anger come from?"


Monk: What is the essence of essences?

Joshu: Just how long have you been essencing yourself up like this?

Monk: My concern for discovering essence has been going for a long, long time.

Joshu: A fool such as you are lucky to have met me just in time, before you completely essenced yourself out!

Go away!

A would-be student knocked on the gate of a zen master. The master opened the gate and asked: "What do you want?"

The student answered: "O master you are so learned. I beg you to teach me!"

The master slammed the gate shut.

The student knocked again.

"What do you want now?"

"Please, please I must have you as my teacher."

Again the master slammed the gate shut.

Once again the student knocked.

"What is it now?"

"Master please! i really want to learn!"

The master said: "Very well then" and open the gate.

Once inside, the elated and beaming student asked: "Master! what are you going to teach me first?"

The master replied: "To go away!"

and promptly threw the student out and slammed the gate.

Knowledge and Understanding

When the ordinary man gains knowledge, he becomes a sage.
When the sage achieves understanding, he becomes an ordinary man.

More blind

There was an episode in the Kung Fu series from the 70s where young Kwai Chang Caine had lost his parents. He was very sad and complained of loneliness to his blind teacher, Master Po. "Do you not hear the birds singing?", Po asked, "Do you not notice the crickets jumping or the snakes moving in the grass? In such a crowded place, you feel you are alone. Now tell me, which one of us is the more blind?"

Seeing the tao

Student: Master why can I not see tao?

Master: So long as there is an I, there is no seeing tao.

Student: Master can you see tao?

Master: So long as there is you and I, tao cannot be seen.

Student: Then if you and I disappear, can tao be seen?

Master: If you and I disappear, who is there to see tao?

So what boy?

A monk in training says to the zen master: "Greetings master! I have travelled much and studied under many acquiring much guidances and insight. I come now to you for illumination!"

The master scratches his head and picks up a twig on the ground. Without saying anything, he gives the student the twig. The student assumes the zazen posture and meditates deeply. In his mind, the twig grows into a tree and then is produced a beautiful orchard which gradually blossoms into a field, a country, the planet and finally the universe!

He goes back to the master and relates these wonders: all life is one in its eternal existence with everything else animate and inanimate - such is the ubiquitous unity of the universe!

The master scratches his head again, takes the twig from the monk's outstretched hand and asks: "So what boy?"

The duel

An aikido master was heading to a town where he knew there was someone insisting on challenging him. He could have taken the person down easily, but he would not let ego dictate and he passed through the outskirts avoiding his would-be opponent.

Thus the master won the real duel.

The flag

A zen master and two students were walking on a path through the forest. as they came out of it they saw a flag pole with a large flag fluttering in the breeze.

One student exclaimed, "Look the flag is moving!"

His companion thought for a moment and suggested, "The wind is moving!"

The master said, "The mind is moving."

The precious stone

When two dragons fight over a precious stone which one wins?
The one who loses lacks nothing. The one who gains does not need it.

The two dragons

The student went to the master with what he found to be a wonderfully enlightening story:

An old man told his grandson, "There is a battle between two dragons inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, apathy, lies, ego and fear. The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, kindness, humility, empathy and truth. The boy thought about it and asked, "Grandpa, which dragon wins?" The old man quietly replied, "The one you feed."

"Such a great story, is it not master?", concluded the student.

The master smiled and said, "It is that, but what makes you think either dragon is hungry?"